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Legislative Info “Emergency Contraception” Education

Background: In 2003, measures called Emergency Contraception Education Acts (H.R. 1812, S. 896) were introduced in both the House and Senate. These bills authorize $10 million for each of the Fiscal Years 2004 through 2008 for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promote education on emergency contraception in the public and private sectors. Entities involved include nonprofit organizations, consumer groups, institutions of higher education, Federal, State, or local agencies, clinics, the media, and health care providers. “Emergency contraception” is defined as a drug or device (as specified in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) or a drug regimen that is used after sexual relations and “prevents pregnancy, by preventing ovulation, fertilization of an egg, or implantation of an egg in a uterus (emphasis added).”

In the statement of findings, this definition is phrased as follows: “Emergency contraception, also known as post-coital contraception, is a responsible means of preventing pregnancy that works like other hormonal contraception to delay ovulation, prevent fertilization or prevent implantation (emphasis added).” The language in the main section of the bill and in the preliminary findings concedes in fact that “emergency contraceptives” are sometimes abortifacient. Attempting to obscure this meaning, the findings also state: “Emergency contraception does not cause abortion and will not affect an established pregnancy.” In this way, the bill asserts that only an established pregnancy can be aborted. The destruction of human life from conception to the time of implantation is not considered to be abortifacient. The bill bolsters this erroneous notion by referring to the “implantation of an egg in a uterus” (emphasis added), avoiding the biological fact that at conception the egg and sperm join and generate a new human life neither egg nor sperm. Similar bills were introduced in the 107th Congress. No further action was taken.  House: On April 11, 2003, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced H.R. 1812; the measure has 91 cosponsors. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  It will be carried over to 2004.  Senate: On April 11, 2003, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced S. 896; the measure has nine cosponsors. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  It will be carried over to 2004.

On June 19, 2003, Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-PA) introduced the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act (H.R. 2527). The measure has 73 cosponsors and was referred to the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and to the Committee on Ways and Means. A similar measure was introduced in the 107th Congress.  H.R. 2527 will be carried over to 2004. H.R. 2527 provides that federal funds may not be made available to a hospital unless the hospital (1) promptly gives sexual assault victims written and oral information about emergency contraception, including information that “emergency contraception does not cause an abortion,” (2) promptly offers emergency contraception and promptly provides it on the victim’s request, (3) the information is provided in language that is easily understood, and (4) these services are not denied because of inability to pay. “Sexual assault” means coitus in which the woman does not consent or lacks the legal capacity to consent. “Emergency contraception” is defined as “a drug, drug regimen, or device that is (A) used postcoitally; (B) prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation, preventing fertilization of an egg, or preventing implantation of an egg in a uterus; and (C) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.” As with the Emergency Contraception Education Act, this measure recognizes as fact that emergency contraception can act by preventing implantation, but falsely asserts that this action is not abortifacient. The bill claims it is an egg, and not a newly conceived human being resulting from union of egg and sperm, [approximately 100 cells in size, termed a blastocyst] that is implanted. All hospitals receiving federal funds would be required to convey erroneous information as fact and to act on this erroneous information. [NCHLA, 8Mar04]